AWS Summit SF 2018

3 minute read

I attended my first ever AWS Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday, April 4th, 2018. An AWS Summit is a free 1-day summit that is loaded with presentations, sessions, workshops, hands-on labs and capped off with a reception. The AWS Summit SF 2018 conference was held inside of the Moscone West conference center in downtown San Francisco. In this blog post, I’ll detail my experience at this conference. The big takeaway from me was that AWS Summits are fantastic and well worth the time.

My day began at 7am. The check-in process was quick and easy this early in the morning. Just walk up to a line of tablets that you enter your registration e-mail into, and someone hands you your newly printed lanyard and badge. The expo hall had all the vendors with breakfast and lunch served there as well. If you are AWS certified let them know during registration so that you can get an additional credential on your badge. The certification distinction gets you access to a certified-only lounge and reception event.

The first talks start before the keynote. The first talk I saw was titled “Containerization with Mu and Fargate.” In between sessions or instead of them, I recommend checking out the hands-on labs powered by Qwiklabs. You probably will have to wait in line to get into the lab. Upon entering the lab, you’ll be handed a business card with a code that gives you access to a single tutorial using QwikLabs.

Greengrass and DeepLens

My prime objective for this summit was attending Internet-of-Things (IoT) workshops. I waited in line for the Greengrass and then the DeepLens; each workshop was 2 hours long. In each of these workshops, you use your AWS account to do something real with that technology. For the Greengrass session, we set up a couple of t2 EC2 instances as “devices.” Greengrass automates the tedious process of setting up connectivity between external devices (“computers”) with your AWS account. Once you choose a programming language and a platform, you download a Zip file with everything that you need including a certificate. All the client code is generated, and it uses the certificate to connect securely back to your AWS account. Any computing device can be connected to your AWS account in minutes using Greengrass. Most of the IoT services don’t fall into the free tier but don’t worry about spending your own money because AWS gives you $25 credits as you leave. Most likely you’ll walk out with a surplus of credits for your account.

DeepLens following Greengrass is only logical since DeepLens uses Greengrass behind the scenes. DeepLens is a system-on-a-chip that runs Ubuntu and has a camera attached. You first must connect your DeepLens to WiFi just as you would for an Amazon Echo. Once attached to Wifi, you can register your DeepLens with your AWS account by using the serial number on the device. Once the device is registered, you can push models to it seamlessly. We used a pre-built face detection model that we loaded into SageMaker. After running the worksheet, we transmitted the model to the DeepLens device. The device then performed face recognition on its own, and you could view its results in real-time.

For attending these workshops, I received a free pre-order for DeepLens. I’m looking forward to exploring the AWS IoT space with DeepLens once it’s released on June 14th, 2018.

Wrap-up and Receptions

The end of the summit is celebrated with two different receptions: one in the main expo hall for all attendees and another on the 2nd floor for AWS certification holders. The main expo hall reception was so large that many snack/drink stations existed to serve such a large turnout. The certification reception was smaller and quieter allowing more exciting and detailed conversations.